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Should Dark Skin People Wear Sunscreen?

The frequent notion that people of colour don’t need to apply sunscreen stems from the fact that high levels of melanin provide some level of sun protection due to its propensity to absorb light (SPF).

This SPF is insufficient to provide proper sun protection, which is why people of all shades of hue should continue to use sunscreen on a regular basis. There’s also a misconception that persons with darker skin tones shouldn’t apply sunscreen since they’re deficient in vitamin D.

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Although studies demonstrate that high levels of melanin in the skin can inhibit ultraviolet radiation from reaching the deepest layers of skin, where vitamin D is produced, foods remain the best source of vitamin D.

Another myth is that the major reason everyone, regardless of skin tone, should wear sunscreen is to prevent skin cancer. However, because the relationship between the sun and melanin cannot be put into one neat box that fits all people, many physicians who specialize in skin of colour are advocating for a more nuanced approach to sun protection.

Though there is a definite correlation between UVB radiation (a kind of UV radiation emitted by the sun) and skin cancer in those with fair skin, it is less evident in people with a darker complexion.

Because skin cancers in this group tend to occur on parts of the body that don’t get much sun, advertising advising people with darker skin to use sunscreen as a preventative measure is misleading.

Skin malignancies induced by inflammatory diseases, for example, are substantially more common in Black people. Skin cancers can also be caused by conditions like Hidradenitis suppurativa, which affects hair follicles in often unsun-exposed places like the underarms or groin, or discoid lupus, an autoimmune illness, which provides a larger risk for Black people than cancers induced by sun exposure.

How To Choose The Perfect Sunscreen For Your Skin

Chemical and physical sunscreens are the two most common forms. Physical or mineral sunscreens contain chemicals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which lie on top of the skin’s surface and physically block and reflect UV radiation. Physical sunscreens are simpler to wash off with perspiration or water since they operate as a real barrier, yet they provide protection right away. Physical sunscreens also have the disadvantage of leaving a white cast after application. This is particularly evident on the darkest skin tones, which some individuals find unappealing.

Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, contain active organic chemicals that are absorbed into the skin and convert UV radiation to heat (typically avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and/or ecamsule). Chemical sunscreens have the advantage of being engineered to be thinner and easier to apply because the compounds in them are smaller, making them more convenient for everyday use. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, can induce allergic reactions, and oxybenzone was recently prohibited in Hawaii after research revealed that even very low quantities can cause coral bleaching.

Both forms of sunscreen are typically safe to use on people of all skin tones. Chemical sunscreens may be better for you if you have dark skin and wish to avoid the white cast of mineral sunscreens. If you have sensitive skin and have previously experienced a response to chemical sunscreens, some businesses have developed transparent physical sunscreens that do not leave a ghostly white cast. Whatever you choose, read some reviews, ask around, and experiment to discover what looks best on your skin.

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